Leading up to the repeal of DADT on 20 September, I was asked by some members of the press to comment. I did so anonymously, and explicitly stated that my views were my own and were in no way meant to be construed as representative of the Marine Corps. The reporters were fixated on the idea that I didn’t want to come out in the interviews, sometimes to the point of what seemed like misrepresenting what I was saying. I told one of them, “It’s not that I don’t want people to find out I’m gay, it’s that I don’t want them to find out from reading a newspaper or watching the news.” One day discovering the sexuality of a Marine will happen naturally as you ask him if he’s dating anyone and he tells you the person’s name. We aren’t there yet, but we will get there.
As for “coming out” at work, I don’t think I should have to sit people down and tell them I’m gay. But I’m done watching what I say, I’m done being intentionally vague. People need to know that there are gay people in the military who are serving honorably. I don’t need banners and media attention, I just need to be myself and people will come to understand and accept it at their own pace. I am not a second-class citizen, and I won’t let anyone treat me as one anymore. I certainly won’t do it to myself. I deserve better than that.
I absolutely hate when people say, “It’s OK if you’re gay, just don’t rub it in people’s faces.” Obviously the specifics of my sex life aren’t going to be the topics of most conversations, but then I wouldn’t expect straight Marines to be talking about that either. Some do, and I imagine some gay ones will, too. It’s just not the kind of thing I talk about with most people. But I am not going to avoid mentioning a boyfriend or admitting I like Lady Gaga or telling stories about my life, problems, dreams, issues as they come up. I don’t think talking about a boyfriend in the same way a straight Marine would talk about his wife or girlfriend is rubbing it in someone’s face, and I’m offended by the idea that I should be held to a different standard to avoid making ignorant people uncomfortable.
I have served my country for almost 10 years without so much as a peep about my social life. Indeed, I haven’t had much of a social life because of this policy. It’s my turn to live my life as openly as I want. If people have a problem with it, that’s exactly what it is: their problem. I love being gay because I came to accept it through years of struggle and introspection and self-discovery. It is a big part of who I am because in accepting the fact that I was gay, I came to know myself better and become the man I am today. I love my gay friends because in many ways they have become as close as family–even while my family was still struggling to accept it or wasn’t around to support me when I needed it, and I don’t want to hide them from the Marine Corps any more.
Additionally, I don’t want anyone else to worry about affecting my career by people finding out that I’m gay. Friends, boyfriends, and family have all expressed to me over the years the stress they felt for fear of outing me. That fear was an unjust burden, and came at a price that cannot be repaid. I want those days behind us. I want people to know that they can come to me for counsel about anything, and now a whole new aspect of myself has come available to those seeking my guidance. Although I don’t want my service to be characterized by my sexuality, I want to be an example for people to realize it is possible to be a gay Marine and just as effective as anyone else. Without making grand announcements, I want people to come to know and see that, whether through me or through any of my friends and family. If they’re proud of me, I want people to know, and I want them to know how and why. I think that’s important.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be putting my thoughts together to make a YouTube video for the Trevor Project “It Gets Better” series. I want to wait until the media has moved on from this story to something else so it doesn’t get swept away in all of that, and I want to see how things settle out and get a chance to adjust myself to the new environment I now serve in. Reading the recent news about young people committing suicide after being bullied for being gay makes me both sad and angry. Sexuality shouldn’t be something we have to talk about in YouTube videos, but if it can save a life, it is irresponsible not to.
One of the speakers at the SLDN event in San Diego ended his remarks by talking about the last line of the Star Spangled Banner. We sing about the land of the free and the home of the brave. The gays and lesbians who have served the military until now have always been brave, but now they are also free.
I am so happy we can all breathe a little easier. Thank you all for your love and support.